Commencement of Laytime

Once a vessel has arrived at a port, complied with all formalities and contractual commitments, and tendered notice of readiness, laytime will commence in accordance with the contract terms – e.g. ‘at 0700 hours next working day’, or ’12 hours following tendering and accepting notice of readiness’. It is important to remember that the commencement of time counting and the commencement of actual loading or discharging can, under certain circumstances, be quite different. Take, for example, a charterparty with 36 hours turn time ‘even if used’ also Sundays and Holidays excepted ‘even if used’ and Notice of Readiness to be given during normal office hours. Such a ship could arrive at, say, 6 pm on a Friday, work the entire weekend and time would not commence to count until 36 hours after 8 am Monday. Such a ship would have been working for over four days before time even commences to count. Vital, therefore, to ensure also that Notice of Readiness is handed in at the earliest permissible moment. Never think that as work has already started a Notice of Readiness is not needed. Providing a ship arrives at a loading port within the laydays before the cancelling date, the charterer is obliged to produce a cargo for it. He is not obliged to produce any cargo before the laydays if the ship arrives early. Even though the charterer is under no obligation to provide cargo, the owner can present an immediate notice of readiness and time will begin to count in accordance with the terms of the charter party. In such a case, the exceptions to laytime – in addition to those agreed upon – will include any time up to the first time and date mentioned in the agreed laydays. Effectively this situation means that the time lapse between presenting a notice of readiness and time starting to count that would exist under more normal conditions disappears.